Seen through history, the technology within industrial and marine businesses has been rather predictable. However, due to new technologies and IT-based solutions, new trends are emerging. Automation, digitalisation and hybrid solutions are on everyone’s lips in the industrial and marine industries in 2017. In this article, I will walk you through the top three technology trends and summarise what they mean to our line of business.
2016 seen from a marine and industrial point of view
Generally speaking, looking back at 2016, I would choose the word stability to describe the industrial and marine industries. As trade, consumption and globalisation are increasing so is the flow of goods, which is a fundamental driving force for industrial growth. Due to global influences and continued low oil prices, the industrial segment still has some challenges with businesses related to oil and gas. However, other businesses within the industrial segment are stable or increasing, such as agriculture, forest, transport and logistics. Last year’s development in the industrial and marine industries is a promising starting point when taking on the new year, with a lot of exciting challenges coming our way.
Industrial and marine trends contribute to our industry’s development
Three strong and long-term technology trends influencing the industrial and marine industries relate to digitalisation, automation and hybrid solutions. These trends will strongly contribute to, and shape, our business and its future development.
1. Connected and customised products that fit specific business needs
Industrial and marine businesses are looking for products that are customised for their specific businesses and needs. A product should be specialised and optimised in itself, as well as be adapted to the context in which it operates regardless of whether it is a harbor, mine or harvest operation. New technology enables us to meet these customer demands in a better way. Digitalisation and connection of the products enables them to interact with each other, which often results in a more optimised and effective use and workflow. Connected products also give us the opportunity to monitor and follow up their performance and health. That means it will be much easier to plan predictive diagnostics as well as preventive maintenance.
2. Driverless and sensor-controlled machines through automation
Automation is a hot and futuristic topic in marine and industrial businesses. How to guide and steer machines using sensors, as well as driverless machines and vehicles, are topics we now discuss more and more often with our customers. Automation is achieved by connecting and integrating features of the vehicle with e.g. sensors and guidance systems. In our marine businesses, Volvo Penta has come quite far in the journey towards automation by integrating e.g. driveline, maneuvering and stabilisation systems. Going forward, more and more features will be connected, combined and stepwise automated.
In the future, we want to develop similar solutions on industrial equipment too. We will do so by connecting more systems in the machine than just the engine.
3. A growing acceptance and need for hybrid solutions on the markets
From being a promising technology, we can now see both a growing acceptance and need for hybrid solutions on the markets. The large interest is connected to current as well as future emission legislations, but also to public sentiment for more ‘clean’ solutions. Hybrid solutions are not only friendlier towards the environment, but in many cases also contribute to lower fuel costs as well as reduced fuel consumption. In addition, a hybrid vehicle is often easier to automate.
Volvo Penta is fortunate to take part in the development of hybrid solutions. We often discuss the topic with our customers and have conducted several projects to validate technology and customer value. The Volvo Group has a leading role in developing hybrid technology and Volvo Penta benefits from the group’s knowledge and experience. We predict a big change in the future when it comes to more environmental-friendly power solutions. Our vision is to be at the forefront of this change.
Volvo Penta focuses on the customers to be a part of their future
At Volvo Penta, we value closeness to our customers, and it is very important that our engineers designing the products fully understand our customers’ businesses. To comprehend the needs of professionals working in industrial and marine industries, we must be able to look up from our design drawings and start from the customer. I believe, when getting caught in everyday routines it is easy to lose track of where we are going. When communicating with my colleagues, I often say that we need to stay future proof. It basically means that we always need to anticipate what’s coming next and prepare beforehand. In a sense, you could say that we sometimes need to work more as a start-up, instead of an industrial company. And it is my job, as Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, to keep track of future trends and to have our customers’ current and future needs our top priority.
We are at the beginning of a very interesting industry development where IT and traditional industry merge together. We will make the most out of combining new and old technology to continue providing real value to our customers.
I hope you found my article interesting and that you are just as excited as I am to meet the new technology trends coming our way this year. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me directly or write in our social media channels.